Friday, August 26, 2011

How to clean your toilet bowl for under 2 euros

The toilet bowl in our apartment has haunted me for a while. I didn't have problem maintaining a clean one in the past but this particular one has given me many headaches. It turned brown at the bottom part and no matter how hard I scrubbed, the stain won't go away. At one point I was convinced that I scrubbed it too much that the toilet brush hurt the porcelain and revealed the real color underneath.

So, guests have to use our gross toilet and I really have enough of it. I thought of changing one but before doing this, I checked online to see what I could do. And bingo, I found that some toilets have calcium deposits due to hard water and there are many ways to clean them. I especially like the methods from this website (in French). Here are the methods recommended:

1. White Vinegar (30 cents for 1L)
White vinegar is eco-friendly and is cheap. You can find it in grocery stores, displayed in the cooking oil and vinegar section.
To start the cleaning process, first use the toilet brush to push down the water level, then use a cup to drain out water from the toilet bowl. Use a sponge to absorb the remaining water.
Boil 1L white vinegar and pour it into the toilet bowl. Let it sit overnight.
The next morning, the calcium deposits were almost 60% gone!

2. Coca-Cola (1.34€ for 1.5L)
It is amazing what Coca-cola can do to toilet cleaning. The second night I drained out water and poured in 1L of Coca-cola and let it sit overnight. Ok, I was going to use the whole 1.5L but hubby wanted to drink some of it. The next morning, around 10% more gone. I'm not a big fan of Coca-cola and the fact that I'm using it to clean toilet, I think I won't touch it for a while.

3. Hydrochloric Acid
You can find this in Home Improvement stores like Leroy Merlin or Castorama. A lot of people recommended it because it takes less than 20 minutes to see the effect and apparently it cleans the dirtiest stains. However, it is dangerous to use as it creates toxic fumes so you will need to use a pair of rubber gloves and wear a mask. You will also need to open windows to let the air circulate. I hesitated for this method as it is not eco-friendly at all. In fact for those who has septic sewage system, this could kill the necessary bacterias. I will continue using white vinegar and use this as the last option.

4. Elbow grease (l'huile de coude)

Seriously, you can not blame me if I made a fool out of myself. I read this in French and I didn't know what was l'huile de coude. L'huile is oil in French so I went check online and I got photos of them in bottle and people asking question about where to buy it. I then asked hubby if we have this at home. He laughed at me so badly and he even told his coworkers and everyone had a good laugh.

So, what is l'huile de coude? Coude = elbow, in this case it means that I need to scrub scrub scrub with energy. And I did.

For my third attempt, I empty the toilet bowl and boiled another 1L of white vinegar. I let it sit for 10 minutes, then use a wooden spoon to scrub. It took some elbow grease but pieces of calcium took off and I felt that with the present of vinegar it was easier to scrub. Do not use metal spoon, I made a mistake by using one and it left a tiny scald there. Now the toilet is 98% clean, there remains some stains in the deeper area (non visible) but I think another round of white vinegar will do.

5. There are other tools that people recommended: pumice stone (I don't know where to find this in France), plumbers cloth or sand paper, screw driver (I'm not sure about this, it could hurt the porcelain).

Some people might think that this process of emptying the toilet bowl is gross. It was not for me as I think of this as a chemical operation. When calcium meets vinegar (acid), it soften and surrendered.

Voilà, here is how I use less than 2€ (1 bottle of Coca + 2 bottles of white vinegar) to clean the toilet bowl.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Aelig on vacation with grandparents

Aelig is on vacation with her grandparents. We received daily update from them. Here is what we got this morning, and grandma always put Aelig as the first person:

Good morning mom & dad,
I'm doing well.

Yesterday, I went to the beach: it was great, I like especially the waves, they made me fell down several times and one entirely covered my body. It was my baptism.

I ate very well: I love the grilled sardines and the potatoes with butter. I took a bottle of milk morning and evening, 230ml this morning.

Grandpa and grandma avoid saying mom & dad as I would quickly look around, but you guys were not there. Yesterday while doing grocery shopping with grandpa, I thought I saw dad and I called "papa" to a man with long hairs.

Big big kiss to both of you.


Here another update from granddad:

Good evening,
After her walk with her grandma, she came helped me collect the apples fell on the floor. It was very convenient as she passed easily under the low branches and she understood immediately what she should do. At the end she wanted to pick an apple directly from the the tree but she looked at me and she realized that she was going to do a bad thing...
Later, she helped grandma watering the flowers, in fact she played with the garden hose.
She ate well and she asked to go to the bed at 9pm.
Tomorrow will be another day...

Big kisses to both of you, this time we are three with her, yes!.

Grandpa & grandma (tonight she said mamanpoutette to distinguish from papoutette)

Note: Grandpa & grandma would like Aelig to call them papounet & mamounette respectively but Aelig still couldn't quite get the pronunciation so she would call both poutette.

Grandpa & grandma's love to Aelig has always given me mixed feeling. I had never known my grandparents as they passed away before I was born. During my childhood I envied friends with grandparents: they got extra pocket money, candies, nice clothes, vacation...

I'm happy that Aelig could enjoy good times with her grandparents. Hubby was bitter that he was not the first one seeing her reaction in water. As for me, even though I miss her dearly, the most important thing is that she is joyful at every moment.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A song to Mamig for her 90th birthday

Recently we celebrated the 90th birthday of hubby's grandma. We call her Mamig. Most family members were there including her 15 great grand children.

A cousin was in charge to have all the great grand children to sing a song to Mamig. When she explained the song to Aelig, she didn't like the original idea.

A: This seems lame. We should do it differently so that Mamig would laugh while listening to us.
Cousin: What do you have in mind?

Aelig: Hey everyone, listen to me, there is a change in the plan, we would do it this way. Just follow me.
Everyone: Ok chef.

Aelig: You should hold the paper this way, and the lyric, I have corrected it...

Aelig: Do you all understand?
Everyone: Yes.
Aelig; Ok now let's start.
Everyone sings: "Mamig, you are ne ne never tired, we love you..."

Aelig: Mamig, did you enjoy our presentation?

Mamig: Yes, I love it very much, you all are very very sweet, now come give me a kiss.

Happy birthday Mamig!!!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Looking for fresh sweet corn in France

It all started with eggs.
We ordered eggs from the local farmer, we have to pick them up once a week.
Around a year later, we could get the hens.
Yes, we will eat the hens who give us eggs every week.
We got two this time and hubby cooked one with a French recipe (poule au pot). He didn't like it so I ate it all (I love everything with soup especially long simmer soup).
One more hen to go so I decided to cook it the Chinese way. Checked online on the recipe and found one that requires sweet corns and dried scallops. Looking at the recipe I was drooling, I so miss those chicken soup!

My mother sent me dried scallops so the only thing I needed was some sweet corns. I planned to order them online but couldn't find any in chronodrive. I had to make a stop to the grocery store just to find them in precooked form and they were wrapped in some liquids and displayed in the organic zone. I was skeptical but decided to give it a try. It turned out so delicious that even Aelig loved it (well hubby is someone who doesn't appreciate Chinese soup). Aelig ate a lot of dried scallops, it paid off to have mom sent them all the way from Malaysia.

So, what's going on that I can't find fresh sweet corns in France? I saw plenty of corn fields here. A friend told me that corns are food for animals. Some might get offended if you serve them corns. Here, they are usually sold in can (kernels). I have never seen people grilling corns here, most of the time I find them in salad.

I miss the time we could buy fresh corns on the road sides or from pasar malam (night market). My mother would boil them or steam them. Just need to remove the outer husks and the hairs before cooking them. The taste is scrumptious. How about grilling it with some butter? Simply heavenly. We usually leave the cob so that we could hold the cob while eating.

If I have a garden, I would plant some. Someone told me that since they are plenty of corn fields here, I could just go and "take" some. lol